March 10, 2007


2007 NCAA Div. III Men’s Basketball Tournament
Sectional Finals

Amherst, MA






#21 Rhode Island College (27-4)

#6 Amherst College (28-2)







Sixth-Ranked Lord Jeffs Down RIC, 81-69

            Amherst, MA—The No. 21 Rhode Island College men’s basketball team saw its season come to a close in an 81-69 loss to sixth-ranked Amherst College in the Sectional Final of the 2007 NCAA Div. III Men’s Basketball Tournament on Saturday evening. The Anchormen conclude a magical 2006-07 campaign, which saw the team establish new school records for wins in a season, while reaching the Elite Eight for the first time.


Rhode Island will say goodbye to one of the winningest classes in school history as seniors Kinsey Durgin (Greenwood, ME), Anthony Pierlioni (Plainville, CT), Brian Stanko (Swansea, MA), Amde Tegbaru (Stockholm, Sweden), Kamari Williams (Springfield, MA) and John Weir (Danbury, CT) played their last collegiate game. The Senior Class of 2007 has totaled a combined record of 77-38, including three consecutive post-season appearances. RIC was making its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 28 years (1979).


“It was a great season,” Rhode Island College Head Men’s Basketball Coach Bob Walsh said. “I am so proud of the 14 guys in that locker room and the six seniors. They have established RIC basketball at a championship level.”


The Anchormen jumped out to an early six point lead, capped by a sophomore guard Bobby Bailey (Fall River, MA) jumper just 1:54 into the contest. The Lord Jeffs scored on their next two possessions, but RIC answered the call, going on a 10-5 run to hold a 16-10 advantage with 12:46 left in the half.


Amherst went on a 14-5 run to take a 30-21 lead with 8:57 left. Junior guard Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA), junior forward Fletcher Walters (Ann Arbor, MA) and sophomore guard Brian Baskaukas (Palo Alto, CA) each connected on three-pointers during the surge. Both clubs traded blows down the stretch and Olson capped the first frame with a long-range triple to close out the first stanza with the Lord Jeffs on top, 46-34. Amherst was paced by Olson and Baskaukas with 13 and nine points, respectively, each shooting a perfect three-for-three from behind the arc. As a team, Amherst shot 57 percent from field (16-for-28), including a 73 percent effort (8-for-11) from downtown.


Amherst kept up the pressure in the second half, building a game-high 12-point lead, 56-44, on a senior forward Dan Wheeler (Bloomington, MN) trifecta at 15:56 mark. A resilient Anchormen squad trimmed the lead to three points with precise long range shooting. Sophomore guard Cameron Stewart (Newport, RI), senior forward Brian Stanko (Swansea, MA) and senior guard Kamari Williams (Springfield, MA) drained three consecutive threes as RIC went on a 15-6 run to climb back into the contest, 62-59.


The Lord Jeffs responded with three jumpers to balloon their lead back to nine points to hold a 68-59 advantage with 7:10 left. A layup by Rhode Island College sophomore guard Tirrell Hill (Bronx, NY) got the Anchormen back within striking distance, 73-67, with 2:31 left on the clock.


Despite forcing turnovers and keeping Amherst scoreless over the next 1:42, the Anchormen were unable to score on three consecutive possessions. “We compete really hard all the time,” Walsh said. “We weren’t going down without a fight and we competed against a great team. A couple of play here and there could have made a difference.”


Amherst closed the game out with a solid effort from the free throw line. Senior guard Tim McLaughlin (Chatham, NJ) hit four free throws, while Olson and Wheeler added a pair apiece to send the Lord Jeffs to their third Final Four in the past four seasons.


Bailey was named to the Sectional Round’s All-Tournament Team. He finished with a team-high 13 points, six assists and two rebounds. Hill had 12 points, while Johnson added 10.


Amherst had five players score in double figures, led by Olson’s 19 points and Wheeler’s 18-point effort. Baskaukas posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards.


Both clubs shot the ball well, with Amherst posting a 46 percent (27-for-59) effort and the Anchormen registering a 47 percent (26-for-55) effort. The Lord Jeffs outrebounded RIC by 14, 40-26, in the win.


RIC wraps up the season with a 27-4 overall record. Two of the Anchormen’s four losses came at the hands of the Lord Jeffs. Amherst continues its quest for a National Championship with a 28-2 record.